Never Ends – Always Planning

Love July …. Although we have had a few warm days already, you have to love July. Time to kick back, grab some vacation time, walk the beach, or sit poolside. For families of high school and college-aged students, the summer offers no rest from the critical tasks and activities associated with post-high school and college-related activities.

Top Nine Summer Tasks Not to Miss

1 – Learn the Admissions and Financial Aid Process – whether your oldest and first or fourth like me, learn the rules, terminology, and your parent of four like me. The pandemic changed the landscape, but it is coming back fast; rules, and processes

2 – Map Out the Timeline – digitalize the checklist of activities, tasks, responsibilities within the household – keep everyone accountable; it’s not just mom’s job!

3 – Don’t Waste the Junior to Senior Summer – colleges are open for businesses, sign up, and attend tours. Get out on the road. Investigate, explore, ask questions and learn.

4 – Raising Your Hand – register, text, email, and call. Let your schools know you are interested in them. The college hasn’t had time to find you!

5- Start the Essay and Common Application – senior year will be hectic – start now!!

6 – Gap Year – if you were one of the many students who elected to delay entering college this year, make it a good year. But read the fine print. Be cautious. Each school has its own rules and policies regarding deferring, taking a semester or year off. Contact your school and learn the rules!

7 – Keep the Pedal Down on Scholarships – Every dollar earned is a dollar not borrowed.

8 – Be Independent – learn to drive, volunteer, talk to college students, get a job, stay active – middle, high school, or college-age, pick one and join your community.

9 – Increasing Tuition Assistance – two important factors guide this, your student, and the needs of a college. Understanding the dynamics of a school and why they award scholarships, need-based aid, tuition discounts, and other resources is key. Not the two programs administered by the Feds or even your state and local providers. Moving this and moving that, prior to understanding the college-student matching game can lead to unwise changes.

Social Media – love it or hate it, it’s part of our framework and many daily lives. For colleges and universities, it is another item on their admission checklist – post offer to attend. Right now, many institutions across the county are examining Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter pages of their incoming class of 2021. They are reviewing social media pages to ensure that individuals who have accepted an offer to attend have not crossed the social media line. I advise all of my families to be cautious. Don’t let eighteen years of building a solid image and personal character get tainted by one social media post.

Remember – No Planning is Poor Planning 

CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? As a parent of four, I understand the complexing of planning a student’s journey after high school. If you’re looking for clarity and insights to your questions reach out. . No Pitch!

Find us, follow up and learn more at – 617-240-7350 or email at

Not ready for an adviser in your life, consider the online college planning portal Pivotal College Years. A low-cost, robust subscription resource center at the click of a mouse or palm your hand. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.- College Planning Portal for Families 


No Summer Slide for 2022 Planning

Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2021

To the students and the parents of the graduating class of 2021, wow. kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school, college, graduate school. Wow. In all of my 35+ years in education, never has there been a year. Congratulation!

Now, no sliding during the summer. Put your relentless determination, newfound savviness, and ability to pivot to work, and take your next step. Parents and students use the month of June to recharge and refuel but do not let up on the gas.

Whether your classroom is moving up, changing schools, grade level, pursuing graduate school, internship, apprenticeship, licensing, or joining the workforce, take the bull by the horns (little ones not a good idea) and champion forward. We are here to help and have your back!!

Summer Doesn’t Take a Break

The pandemic has changed the college admission and financial aid landscape for the foreseeable future. If you’re a rising senior you have time and opportunity. This summer is going to be key to recovering and taking advantage of missed opportunities. The campus is opening for tours, information sessions, and meeting with college admissions and financial aid departments. Learn, explore, ask questions, and prep for the Fall. Need answers and insight – call us, schedule an appointment. We do not pitch until you say help!

Still, Thinking About College?

Opportunities await even now for September 2021 enrollment. The pandemic caused many students and families to pause during the school year to question what’s next—a good pause for many. This past year, we have learned a lot, including that we need to celebrate and support multiple pathways education and careers.

If you are now ready to go in September, over 150 colleges, universities, and Community Colleges in MA and New England are waiting to hear from you. If an internship, apprenticeship, licensing program, or skilled professional program suits you, then go for it. Turn to your resources at NSCC, NECC, No Shore Career Center, and the vast network that makes up the Route One BNG family.

Preparing to Pay – September College Tuition Bill

It will be in the mailbox, your student’s email or the college portal, the September tuition bill. Arriving as early as July, the bill, once resolved, is the pathway to key swipe card) for dorm rooms, access to the dining halls, and campus life activities. Yes, academic classes too. Finalizing financing options should be done sooner than later. Investigate all options, including a school’s Monthly Payment Plan, use of savings (529 plans), scholarships, and personal financing resources (home equity). If, in the end, a private education loan is the only option, borrow conservatively, and remember, a loan must be repaid.

No Break from Campus Tours

Parents of high school sophomores and juniors, no, no. The pandemic has left many slightly behind or not even engaged. In-person campus tours, information sessions, and 1-1 interviews are back! Students and families will need to map their thoughts on where to visit by the strength of the college list, who’s hot or not. The pandemic has changed the rules, many that will continue into the 2021-2022 college year. Don’t lose the benefits of the summer months!

Repaying Education Loan and Employee Assistance Programs

Changes during the pandemic placed a hold on the repayment of Federal Student Loans, which tentatively ends on September 30, 2021. It is unclear what, if anything, the Administration or Congress will do, but those whose loans were frozen should begin to factor the return of their monthly payment into the budget. Education loan refinancing and modified repayment may be an option if there is a continued financial strain on the family budget.

The use of employer-sponsored education reimbursement benefits also experienced changes with the introduction of expanded services—benefits, including assisting with education loan debt.

Power of Saving

Financial aid is available for those who qualify—a classic statement used by colleges and universities and many who advise students and families. However, saving is king. Every dollar saved strengthens a student and family’s access to college. Setting aside as much as possible through a broader range of education savings programs will increase access to a wide range of college options. Parents, grandparents, and relatives can also participate in the college savings game. Connect with one of the many financial service experts in the Route One BNG family for additional guidance and assistance.

Consult an Independent College Counselor

Need help with the checklist, calming the waters, getting started, or just answering questions. An experienced independent college counselor can help parents guide their students. They listen, focus on needs and expectations, and help manage realistic and holistic college planning. Plus, you’ll get the peace of mind that a professional is on the team 100% of the time.

Tom O’Hare is the Founder of Get College Going, a North Shore-based full-service college counseling practice. TOur goal is to help family’s find the right education, for the right reason, at the right school for the right investment—resources before, during, and after college.

Schedule a free consultation or obtain your free Comprehensive College Guide at
Follow Get College Going at





High school seniors are anxiously awaiting the finish line. Twelve years of studies, homework, and activities from 7:15 AM to 2:15 PM are coming to an end. Next for many will be college, work, internships, volunteer work, and service.

At the same time, college graduates begin to embrace their next move; graduate schools, two-year to four-year, upskilling, and of course joining the workforce.

The late Spring and early summer months are exciting times for young emerging minds.

For parents of rising juniors (2023) and seniors (2022), your work doesn’t end as the summer approaches. Yes, we all look forward to the beach, time off for good behavior, and maybe even a slower pace, but the summer is a pivotal time to stay on track to hit Fall deadlines and complete essential tasks.

7 Common College Miscues

1. Allowing a 17-Year- Old to Make $250K Financial Decisions
Attending college after high school is an investment. Too often, I find parents allowing their DS or DD to be the sole manager of their process. Parents need to work with their students to set realistic goals and expectations, learn about financing capabilities, and share tasks and calendar deadlines.

2. Believing that a 4 Year College is for Everyone
Yes, learning is timeless, lifelong, but for many, it calls for different pathways. Parents of middle and high school, don’t panic if the idea of a skilled profession or work than college is the path being considered. Education pathways should be individualized based on the interest, goals, and strengths of the student.

3. Shopping Before Budgeting
What is our financing capability? Debt tolerance? Learn the rules, how colleges set costs, award aid, and recruit students using their money. Like when buying a first home, it is critical to understand what we can afford.

4. Waiting for Colleges to Offer an Invite
It is exciting to see the mailbox fill up with college brochures and viewbooks, but it’s not recruitment. Students need to raise their hands, identify their interests and promote their individual talents and interest. Writing a strong essay, communicating (text, call, email), visit, and filling a timely application are all keys to demonstrating a desire to enroll.

5. Missing the Importance of Creating a High School Resume
Tracking accomplishments, achievements, and personal growth during high school make completing an accurate college application seamless.

6. Assuming There is Plenty of Financial Aid for Everyone
Colleges, universities, government, and private providers have limited merit scholarships, grants, and need-based available to new and returning students. Don’t delay and always file the FAFSA.

7. Creating an Unrealistic List of College Options
Cast a broad net to learn what schools are looking for your DD or DS, their strengths and interests. Consider a less known brand or one not on the national ranking lists. Don’t just chase.


At the core, every family should approach the college process with a comprehensive plan. It should be based on goals and expectations, academic, personal, and financial. A good plan offers the guidance and direction needed to find the right education, for the right reason, at the right school for the right price.

Don’t have a plan or wish to have a check-up, we’ll provide a free review and offer out best practice suggestions for a successful college journey!

Consult an Independent College Counselor

Need help calming the waters, getting started, or just answering questions. An experienced independent college counselor can help parents help their students. They listen, focus on needs and expectations, and help students manage a realistic and holistic college plan. Plus, you get the peace of mind that a professional is on the team 100% of the time.

Tom O’Hare is the Founder of Get College Going, a North Shore-based full-service college counseling practice with resources to assist parents, students, and individuals before, during, and after college. 

Have a questions, schedule a free consultation or obtain your free Comprehensive College Guide at

Follow Get College Going at


Looking Forward….……as of today

Looking Forward….……as of today

Thanksgiving Week, No Time to Pause the College Planning Button


The Fall is usually an exciting month for high school & college students as they return to the classroom and campus activities.  This year, life is just a little different. Covid-19 and its domino effects on the education system,  social interaction, and athletics programs have made for a very turbulent and stressful time. As a parent of four, now working adults, I continue to ask myself, what if I was parenting right now. What would I do? Answer- keep to the plan moving forward.

Sticking to the plan, one focused on goals and expectations, is the best medicine for dealing with uncertainty.  High school and college-age students and those who recently entered the workforce are better equipped to pivot and adjust when dealing with the unexpected before, during, and after college. Here are a few time-sensitive tasks and action items that should be part of this month’s plan.

HS Seniors

  • Deadlines – Application deadlines for high school seniors is now upon us. Admissions and financial aid applications are available, ready for completion and submissions. Getting in and paying for college are driven by two essential applications, the Common App and the FAFSA. Each critical, each requiring time and attention to be completed and filed timely.
    • Students electing to apply EARLY should have sent in their Common Application by now. Students who are holding off or still making their final choices are now looking at December 1- through February 1, 2021 deadlines.

NOTE: Colleges are waiting for applications; if ready, don’t wait for future deadlines-file them now.

  • The FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, should be completed and submitted as early as possible. The Application launches the process of determining a student and family’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. Aid provided from sources including colleges and universities, federal and state, and external sources (employers, civic/community/philanthropic organizations).

Note: All students with an eye on attending college in September of 2021 need to complete the FAFSA.

  • Compare and Evaluate – a continuous process that leads to making a final college selection. For some students and their families, it is immediate; for others, additional time to analyze offers before saying yes. The process can include revisiting a campus, the academic curriculum, and the student life scene, which might change one’s perception and impact one’s goals and expectations over time. Evaluating and questioning is common and can be healthy. A life change event like enrolling in college should answer the question, is this the right one for me? Academic, social, emotional, and financial. Will the college I select set me on my path? Deposit Day is May 1, 2021.

HS Juniors

  • Prequalification before Shopping – the college lists are ready, but how many students and families have evaluated the cost. College is expensive, ranging from $116,000 to $215,000, public and private in-state. Such a big-ticket purchase should first begin with a simple prequalification. Sticker price minus tuition assistance equals the net cost to the student and their family. Dreaming I can get in and hoping I can pay is a recipe for trouble, financial trouble.
  • Evaluating during a pandemic – traditional meet and greet and campus tours are out. Virtual tours, self-guided campus visits are now the play of the day. However, we will return to actual campus visits sometime this Spring, and current juniors and their parents need to be ready. Ready with their top options and the hardcore questions to be asking when finally meeting with college representatives.
  • Standing Out – Never has it been more critical for students to build relationships and raise awareness on college campuses. In these current times of canceled high school visits and college fairs, relationship building between students and college representatives is not happening. To stand out, students need to become a marketer, communicating, and engaging college. Texting, email, and phone calls are three ways a student and college representatives can connect. Waiting for college could result in lost opportunities for acceptance and financial offers. Raise your hand and say hello today!

Workforce November Checklist

  • Returning to School – COVID-19 might have dusted off the idea of returning to college to complete a degree, start a new one (BS/MS/MD) or add a professional skill. Institutions are looking to your interest and can get you started quickly. Consider your eligibility for employee reimbursement benefits, federal and institutional financial aid, or use of programs offered through MassHire and the Career Centers in Salem and Woburn.
  • Managing Educational Debt – federal student loans and some private education loan programs have been on hold during the CV-19 pandemic. But come December 31 and no additional offerings from Washington, loan payments will once again be due. Now is the time to evaluate the use of education loan refinancing to help stabilize budgets and loan payments, lock in all-time loan rates and help with the overall management of education loan debt post-CV-19. Resources are available to help with best practice decisions, including those through AAA Northeast.

CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? Everything starts with a Conversation – Text, phone [617-240-7350], or email at  Follow me on FB/getcollegegoing  – Learn more at

Looking for quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going,  and is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.

College Counseling During Interesting Times

College Counseling During Interesting Times

As I put thoughts together today, my mind is racing with what to pen. So much has happened in the last month; it is crazy not to think that this past month (or more) has not left many feeling paralyzed. Over the week, I need to get a card, and as I drove to and walked in the parking lot, I have the feeling I was in a tourist area in the offseason. In my decade(s), what I can compare this recent experience too is the Blizzard of ’78 and 9/11. Both left me paralyzed and asking why? But as we did after those life-changing events, we are/should be moving forward supporting our families and friends.

As the parent of four working college graduates, the current stressors and strains bring me back to their journeys, stressful but nowhere near what current students and parents are navigating. Thoughts during these unsettling times:

Admitted Students: Congratulations! Many students are learning of their offers to join the incoming Class of 2020, their next Freshman class. Generally, to follow is an invitation to an “Accepted Students Day” program. The event held on campus is designed to take a student and their family across the finish line. It’s the “Say Yes” to the college event with deposits to follow, reserving a seat in the class, and a dorm room.

Still Thinking – Comparing Choices: College is an investment, mind, body, and money, so slowing the pace is while evaluating strengths and weaknesses, is a critical step. Academics, emotional and social stability, affordability, and an ROI that points one towards employment are all the boxes to check. Yes, some schools, those in the Elite, Ivy, small liberal arts sectors may hold their May 1 Deposit Day firm; however, hundreds of others, campuses equal in the brand and experience, are moving their dates. Breath and check their website.

Rising HS/Transfer Students: Although the Corona Virus has changed everything, many things for HS sophomores, juniors, and seniors still contemplating their path after high school remain the same. The difference is how to get it done. Testing, campus tours, evaluating colleges, and calculating college cost are some of the many critical tasks on every college planning checklist. Executing them now as we bounce back will be the key. Tours have become virtual; learning through Webinars communication turns to Skype/Facetime/phone, and Testing Dates are going to be June.

Stick to the Plan: In these times of uncertainty, the best resource is one’s plan. A plan that identifies the tasks and responsibilities shows accountability and structure, uses resources and tools and is modified as needed.

Don’t Be Passive: Everything related to obtaining services and assistance needs to flavored with honey versus vinegar. But, if things are not working, questions are going unanswered, students are not learning, one needs to be their most influential advocate.

Today’s News – What’s the Decision: Hitting the pause button has been my rule of thumb during times of crisis, emotions, and life-changing events. The pause button allows me to seek out support, begin my questioning, and remain holistic in my view. Whether it was little Devlyn’s seizures, Thomas Jr.’s deciding to join the Corp as a grunt with a Bachelors Degree (i.e., no OCS) or releasing my 84-year-old dad from his suffering, life-changing events are never easy to manage. Understanding the rules, thinking ahead, and using one’s network of friends, family, and trusted advisers (not to forget faith) allows us to weather the storm. So whether we are still confronting the virus or working to bring our lives back to some sense of normalcy, let’s remember we have a league of supports ready to assist us on our journey!!

Don’t weather along!!

School Bells are Ringing

School Bells are Ringing

Attention Parents with High School Students

Planning for the new school year is underway. Trips to the mall, school supplies, getting ready for classes and new surroundings are now top of mind. Question: Is planning for after high school on your mind?

Freshman and Sophomore – The newest students to the high school scene will be experiencing new surroundings, academic thills, and the start of building their resume. Freshman and Sophomore students should use this time for discovery and exploring what interests and motivates; academically and personally.  For the family, it is time to learn about college cost and a review of financial capabilities.

Juniors – This is the pivotal college year and September is when it all begins. Time to create the post-high school plan! A plan that maps out the steps, tasks, and activities required to enroll in college, start a skilled professional career or maybe a combination of both. Here’s when the search, evaluation, and hard-core preparation for post-high school decision making truly begins. Visiting colleges, promoting a student’s interest, test-taking and determining how to pay for college just a few of the things many things to do during this pivotal year. Hint: the clock ticks quickly!!

Seniors – If a plan is not in place or not being worked, it’s scramble time!! What typically takes the whole junior year now must be condensed into 3-6 months. Doable, yes. Faster pace and a little more intense, for sure!  For those seniors already working their plan, September kicks into gear the final steps and action items including filing admissions and financial aid applications and culminating by making a choice! It’s all about the 3 W’s and one H – on the fast track!!

6 Keys to Making the Post High School Move Easier

The thought of determining what happens after high school can turn calm and easy-going households into the Goliath ride at Six Flags. A ride that can make what should be an exciting experience a stressful ball of fire. Here are a few ways to turn a potentially wild ride into a smooth and rewarding experience.


Communication is the #1 ingredient when developing the secret sauce for a successful experience. Establishing and keeping a stream of information flowing is critical. A two-way flow that feeds openly by a student, parent(s), and others involved. Strong communication that is connected to a sound plan is essential to mapping out what’s next for a student after high school.


Understanding what one wants to do, might be thinking, and capable of, are critical to the planning process. Majors, type of schools, family spending power, available resources are just a few areas that need to be on the table. Identifying wants and understanding expectation is essential. Being on the same wavelength is critical for everyone on the team. Communicating and maintaining a clear understanding of expectation adds to the success of the secret sauce.

Understanding the Game 

Knowledge is power. Learning and understanding the different parts of one’s options, moving on to college, securing an apprenticeship or even enlistment in the service is critical to the sauce. Deadlines, application flows, cost, eligibility for funding resources are complicated in themselves. Developing and maintaining a strong understanding of all the parts will make connecting them easier. Asking questions, attending information sessions, and obtaining information are all critical steps to the learning experience.

Share the Tasks

As they say, there is no “I” in team! Everyone, a student, parent(s), school administrators, teachers, coaches, and extended family members are all part of guiding a student’s next move. The work should be shared and communicate regularly. Researching, networking, traveling to college visits, and managing the calendar of events is a group effort. No one person can or will do it all!!

Be Realistic

“Dream big but be realistic.” A statement used when we encourage and motivate students to strive to be their best. Out of fear and societal influences we under mind to the true essence of the message. We fail to celebrate the value of individuality. In the college world, it worsens when students and families exceed their realistic levels, a measurement of authentic (genuine) abilities and capabilities.  As a result, students and families overshot their opportunity to be “their best,” only to keep up with classmates, myths, and those dam societal pressures. Let’s shift the conversation. Dream big, be realistic, and be proud!!

Have a Plan

Today, mapping one’s path after high school can be very overwhelming. College, work, skilled professional, military service, a gap year can easily lead to I don’t know! Sometimes the pressure can make one seem like the Mad-Hatter; too much to do, not enough time.  Add in what society and social media communicates, and yes, it’s no wonder more, and more students and families do not struggle with their options and choices. Utilizing a comprehensive college plan can be the key to reducing stress and helping everyone stay focused. Putting a plan in place that outlines tasks, activities deadlines and critical steps throughout the junior and senior year can bring harmony to any household